Why do children need to play?
We often think that play is something that kids do for fun, but we don’t always grasp its full purpose. Children, especially young children, have a physical, psychological, emotional and developmental requirement for play. It is as essential to their development as is food and water.
On a neurobiological level, engaging in play activates circuitry known as the PLAY system, identified by renowned neuroscientist, Jaak Panksepp. Studies have shown that activating this system primes the brain for neurogenesis; the growth of new brain cells.
On an emotional level, play helps children learn empathy and kindness. Social skills such as turn taking, sharing and conflict resolution are all facilitated through play. Emotional intelligence and problem solving skills are borne directly from engaging in play.
All this is to say that play is not a wishy-washy waste of time; it is a crucial element of our children’s lives, and should be a part of ours too!
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw